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Foraging strategies underlying bird egg predation by macaques: A study using artificial nests. 

American Journal of Primatology

Kaisin, O., Gazagne, E., Savini, T., Huynen, M. C., & Brotcorne, F. 

2018

American Journal of Primatology

80(11)

e22916

Bird egg predation is widespread in non‐human primates. Although nest predation is often described as opportunistic, little is known about foraging strategies and nest detection in primates. Since it is the prevalent cause of nest failure in the tropics, birds select nest sites within specific microhabitats and use different nest types to increase nesting success. Identifying the nests targeted by the northern pigtailed macaques (Macaca leonina ), an omnivorous cercopithecine species, and known nest predator, will shine light on nest foraging strategies in primates. The aim of this research was to reveal if nest predation is a selective or opportunistic feeding behavior. We studied, using artificial nests and camera traps, the influence of nest type (open‐cup vs. cavity), microhabitat (i.e., understory density, canopy cover, canopy height, ground cover, and presence vs. absence of thorns and lianas), and nest height, on nest predation by a troop of northern pigtailed macaques in the Sakaerat Biosphere Reserve (Thailand), a degraded environment. In our study, macaque predation on artificial nests was high; out of the 200 nests that were set up, 112 were plundered by macaques. Although predation rates decreased with nest height, nest type, and microhabitat had no significant effect on predation by macaques. Nest detectability and accessibility did not affect predation rates. Macaques actively searched for nests in different microhabitats, suggesting that nest predation by this primate might be considered a selective feeding behavior in this degraded habitat. Consequently, nest predation by this primate might have important conservation implications on the population dynamics of forest‐dwelling bird species. Behavior observation methods, such as instantaneous scan sampling, may underestimate nest predation by primates, a furtive and cryptic behavior.

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